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Mothers Day
Priestley J.B. Priestley
The following play is a humorous portrayal of the status of the mother in a family. Lets read on to see how Mrs Pearsons family reacts when she tries to stand up for her own rights.

Characters MRS ANNIE PEARSON GEORGE PEARSON DORIS PEARSON CYRIL PEARSON MRS FITZGERALD The action takes place in the living-room of the Pearsons house in a London suburb. Time: The Present Scene: The living-room of the Pearson family. Afternoon. It is a comfortably furnished, much lived-in room in a small suburban semi-detached villa. If necessary only one door need be used, but it is better with two one up left leading to the front door and the stairs and the other in the right wall leading to the kitchen and the back door. There can be a muslincovered window in the left wall and possibly one in the right wall, too. The fireplace is assumed to be in the fourth wall. There is a settee up right, an armchair down left and one down right. A small table with two chairs on either side of it stands at the centre.

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When the curtain rises it is an afternoon in early autumn and the stage can be well lit. Mrs Pearson at right, and Mrs Fitzgerald at left, are sitting opposite each other at the small table, on which are two tea-cups and saucers and the cards with which Mrs Fitzgerald has been telling Mrs Pearsons fortune. Mrs Pearson is a pleasant but worried-looking woman in her forties. Mrs Fitzgerald is older, heavier and a strong and sinister personality. She is smoking. It is very important that these two should have sharply contrasting voices Mrs Pearson speaking in a light, flurried sort of tone, with a touch of suburban Cockney perhaps; and Mrs Fitzgerald with a deep voice, rather Irish perhaps.

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MRS FITZGERALD: [collecting up the cards] And thats all I can tell you, Mrs Pearson. Could be a good fortune. Could be a bad one. All depends on yourself now. Make up your mind and there it is. MRS PEARSON: Yes, thank you, Mrs Fitzgerald. Im much obliged, Im sure. Its wonderful having a real fortune-teller living next door. Did you learn that out East, too?

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MRS FITZGERALD: I did. Twelve years I had of it, with my old man rising to be Lieutenant Quartermaster. He learnt a lot, and I learnt a lot more. But will you make up your mind now, Mrs Pearson dear? Put your foot down, once an for all, an be the mistress of your own house an the boss of your own family. [smiling apologetically] Thats easier said MRS PEARSON: than done. Besides Im so fond of them even if they are so thoughtless and selfish. They dont mean to be... MRS FITZGERALD: [cutting in] Maybe not. But itud be better for them if they learnt to treat you properly... Yes, I suppose it would, in a way. MRS PEARSON: MRS FITZGERALD: No doubt about it at all. Whos the better for being spoilt grown man, lad or girl? Nobody. You think it does em good when you run after them all the time, take their orders as if you were the servant in the house, stay at home every night while they go out enjoying themselves? Never in all your life. Its the ruin of them as well as you. Husbands, sons, daughters should be taking notice of wives an mothers, not giving em orders an treating em like dirt. An dont tell me you dont know what I mean, for I know more than youve told me. [dubiously] I keep dropping a hint... MRS PEARSON: MRS FITZGERALD: Hint? Its more than hints your family needs, Mrs Pearson. [dubiously] I suppose it is. But I do hate MRS PEARSON: any unpleasantness. And its so hard to know where to start. I keep making up my mind to have it out with them but somehow I dont know how to begin. [She glances at her watch or at a clock ] Oh good gracious! Look at the time. Nothing ready and theyll be home any minute and probably all in a hurry to go out again.

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[As she is about to rise, Mrs Fitzgerald reaches out across the table and pulls her down.] Let em wait or look after themselves for once. This is where your foot goes down. Start now. [She lights a cigarette from the one she has just finished.] [embarrassed] Mrs Fitzgerald I know you mean well in fact, I agree with you but I just cant and its no use you trying to make me. If I promise you Id really have it out with them, I know I wouldnt be able to keep my promise. Then let me do it. [ flustered] Oh no thank you very much, Mrs Fitzgerald but that wouldnt do at all. It couldnt possibly be somebody else theyd resent it at once and wouldnt listen and really I couldnt blame them. I know I ought to do it but you see how it is? [She looks apologetically across the table, smiling rather miserably.] [coolly] You havent got the idea. [bewildered] Oh Im sorry I thought you asked me to let you do it. I did. But not as me as you. But I dont understand. You couldnt be me. [coolly] We change places. Or really bodies. You look like me. I look like you. But thats impossible. How do you know? Ever tried it? No, of course not... [coolly] I have. Not for some time but it still ought to work. Wont last long, but long enough for what we want to do. Learnt it out East, of course, where theyre up to all these tricks. [She holds her hand out across the table, keeping the cigarette in her mouth] Gimme your hands, dear. [dubiously] Well I dont know is it right?

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MRS FITZGERALD:

MRS PEARSON:

MRS FITZGERALD: MRS PEARSON:

MRS FITZGERALD: MRS PEARSON: MRS FITZGERALD: MRS PEARSON: MRS FITZGERALD: MRS PEARSON: MRS FITZGERALD: MRS PEARSON: MRS FITZGERALD:

MRS PEARSON:

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MRS FITZGERALD: Its your only chance. Give me your hands an keep quiet a minute. Just dont think about anything. [Taking her hands] Now look at me. [They stare at each other. Muttering] Arshtatta dumarshtatta lamarshtatta lamdumbona... [This little scene should be acted very carefully. We are to assume that the personalities change bodies. After the spell has been spoken, both women, still grasping hands, go lax, as if the life were out of them. Then both come to life, but with the personality of the other. Each must try to adopt the voice and mannerisms of the other. So now Mrs Pearson is bold and dominating and Mrs Fitzgerald is nervous and fluttering.] MRS PEARSON: [now with Mrs Fitzgeralds personality] See what I mean, dear? [She notices the cigarette] Here you dont want that. [She snatches it and puts it in her own mouth, puffing contentedly.] [Mrs Fitzgerald, now with Mrs Pearsons personality, looks down at herself and sees that her body has changed and gives a scream of fright.] MRS FITZGERALD: [with Mrs Pearsons personality] Oh its happened. MRS PEARSON: [complacently] Of course its happened. Very neat. Didnt know I had it in me. MRS FITZGERALD: [alarmed] But whatever shall I do, Mrs Fitzgerald? George and the children cant see me like this. MRS PEARSON: [grimly] They arent going to thats the point. Theyll have me to deal with only they wont know it. MRS FITZGERALD: [still alarmed] But what if we cant change back? Itud be terrible. MRS PEARSON: Here steady, Mrs Pearson if you had to live my life it wouldnt be so bad. Youd have more fun as me than youve had as you. MRS FITZGERALD: Yes but I dont want to be anybody else... MRS PEARSON: Now stop worrying. Its easier changing back I can do it any time we want... MRS FITZGERALD: Well do it now...

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Not likely. Ive got to deal with your family first. Thats the idea, isnt it? Didnt know how to begin with em, you said. Well. Ill show you. MRS FITZGERALD: But what am I going to do? MRS PEARSON: Go into my house for a bit theres nobody there then pop back and see how were doing. You ought to enjoy it. Better get off now before one of em comes. MRS FITZGERALD: [nervously rising] Yes I suppose thats best. Youre sure itll be all right? MRS PEARSON: [chuckling] Itll be wonderful. Now off you go, dear. [Mrs Fitzgerald crosses and hurries out through the door right. Left to herself, Mrs Pearson smokes away lighting another cigarette and begins laying out the cards for patience on the table. After a few moments Doris Pearson comes bursting in left. She is a pretty girl in her early twenties, who would be pleasant enough if she had not been spoilt.] DORIS: [before she has taken anything in] Mum youll have to iron my yellow silk. I must wear it tonight. [She now sees what is happening, and is astounded.] What are you doing? [She moves down left centre.] [Mrs Pearson now uses her ordinary voice, but her manner is not fluttering and apologetic but cool and incisive.] [not even looking up] What dyou think Im MRS PEARSON: doing whitewashing the ceiling? DORIS: [still astounded] But youre smoking! MRS PEARSON: Thats right, dear. No law against it, is there? DORIS: But I thought you didnt smoke. MRS PEARSON: Then you thought wrong. DORIS: Are we having tea in the kitchen? MRS PEARSON: Have it where you like, dear. DORIS: [angrily] Do you mean it isnt ready? MRS PEARSON: Yours isnt. Ive had all I want. Might go out later and get a square meal at the Clarendon. DORIS: [hardly believing her ears] Who might? MRS PEARSON:

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I might. Who dyou think? [staring at her] Mum whats the matter with you? Dont be silly. MRS PEARSON: DORIS: [indignantly] Its not me thats being silly and I must say its a bit much when Ive been working hard all day and you cant even bother to get my tea ready. Did you hear what I said about my yellow silk? MRS PEARSON: No. Dont you like it now? I never did. DORIS: [indignantly] Of course I like it. And Im going to wear it tonight. So I want it ironed. MRS PEARSON: Want it ironed? What dyou think its going to do iron itself? No, youre going to iron it for me... You DORIS: always do. MRS PEARSON: Well, this time I dont. And dont talk rubbish to me about working hard. Ive a good idea how much you do, Doris Pearson. I put in twice the hours you do, and get no wages nor thanks for it. Why are you going to wear your yellow silk? Where are you going? [sulkily] Out with Charlie Spence. DORIS: MRS PEARSON: Why? [wildly] Why? Why? Whats the matter with DORIS: you? Why shouldnt I go out with Charlie Spence if he asks me and I want to? Any objections? Go on you might as well tell me... MRS PEARSON: [severely] Cant you find anybody better? I wouldnt be seen dead with Charlie Spence. Buck teeth and half-witted... DORIS: He isnt... MRS PEARSON: When I was your age Id have found somebody better than Charlie Spence or given myself up as a bad job. DORIS: [nearly in tears] Oh shut up! [Doris runs out left. Mrs Pearson chuckles and begins putting the cards together. After a moment Cyril Pearson enters left. He is the masculine counterpart of Doris.] MRS PEARSON: DORIS:

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[briskly] Hello Mum. Tea ready? No. [moving to the table; annoyed] Why not? [coolly] I couldnt bother. Feeling off-colour or something? Never felt better in my life. [aggressively] Whats the idea then? Just a change. [briskly] Well, snap out of it, Ma and get cracking. Havent too much time. [Cyril is about to go when Mrs Pearsons voice checks him.] MRS PEARSON: Ive plenty of time. Yes, but I havent. Got a busy night tonight. CYRIL: [moving left to the door] Did you put my things out? MRS PEARSON: [coolly] Cant remember. But I doubt it. CYRIL: [moving to the table; protesting] Now look. When I asked you this morning, you promised. You said youd have to look through em first in case there was any mending. MRS PEARSON: Yes well now Ive decided I dont like mending. CYRIL: Thats a nice way to talk what would happen if we all talked like that? MRS PEARSON: You all do talk like that. If theres something at home you dont want to do, you dont do it. If its something at your work, you get the Union to bar it. Now all thats happened is that Ive joined the movement. CYRIL: [staggered] I dont get this, Mum. Whats going on? MRS PEARSON: [laconic and sinister] Changes. [Doris enters left. She is in the process of dressing and is now wearing a wrap. She looks pale and red-eyed.] MRS PEARSON: You look terrible. I wouldnt wear that face even for Charlie Spence. DORIS: [moving above the table; angrily] Oh shut up about Charlie Spence. And anyhow Im not ready yet just dressing. And if I do look CYRIL: MRS PEARSON: CYRIL: MRS PEARSON: CYRIL: MRS PEARSON: CYRIL: MRS PEARSON: CYRIL:

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terrible, its your fault you made me cry. [curious] Why what did she do? Never you mind. [rising and preparing to move to the kitchen] Have we any stout left? I cant remember. CYRIL: Bottle or two, I think. But you dont want stout now. MRS PEARSON: [moving left slowly] I do. What for? CYRIL: MRS PEARSON: [turning at the door] To drink you clot! [Mrs Pearson exits right. Instantly Cyril and Doris are in a huddle, close together at left centre, rapidly whispering.] DORIS: Has she been like that with you, too? CYRIL: Yes no tea ready couldnt care less... Well, Im glad its both of us. I thought Id DORIS: done something wrong. CYRIL: So did I. But its her of course... She was smoking and playing cards when I DORIS: came in. I couldnt believe my eyes. CYRIL: I asked her if she was feeling off-colour and she said she wasnt. DORIS: Well, shes suddenly all different. An thats what made me cry. It wasnt what she said but the way she said it an the way she looked. CYRIL: Havent noticed that. She looks just the same to me. DORIS: She doesnt to me. Do you think she could have hit her head or something yknow an got what is it? yknow... CYRIL: [staggered] Do you mean shes barmy? DORIS: No, you fathead. Yknow concussion. She might have. CYRIL: Sounds far-fetched. DORIS: Well, shes far-fetched, if you ask me. [She suddenly begins to giggle.] CYRIL: Now then what is it? DORIS: If shes going to be like this when Dad comes home... [She giggles again.] CYRIL: [beginning to guffaw] Im staying in for CYRIL: DORIS: MRS PEARSON:

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that two front dress circles for the first house... [Mrs Pearson enters right, carrying a bottle of stout and a halffilled glass. Cyril and Doris try to stop their guffawing and giggling, but they are not quick enough. Mrs Pearson regards them with contempt.] MRS PEARSON [coldly] You two are always talking about being grown-up why dont you both try for once to be your age? [She moves to the settee and sits.] CYRIL: Cant we laugh now? MRS PEARSON Yes, if its funny. Go on, tell me. Make me laugh. I could do with it. Yknow you never understand our jokes, DORIS: Mum...

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I was yawning at your jokes before you were born, Doris. DORIS: [almost tearful again] Whats making you talk like this? What have we done? [promptly] Nothing but come in, ask for MRS PEARSON: something, go out again, then come back when theres nowhere else to go. CYRIL: [aggressively] Look if you wont get tea ready, then Ill find something to eat myself... Why not? Help yourself. [She takes a sip of MRS PEARSON: stout.] CYRIL: [turning on his way to the kitchen] Mind you, I think its a bit thick. Ive been working all day. Same here. DORIS: MRS PEARSON: (calmly) Eight hour day! CYRIL: Yes eight hour day an dont forget it. Ive done my eight hours. MRS PEARSON: CYRIL: Thats different. Of course it is. DORIS: MRS PEARSON : [calmly] It was. Now it isnt. Forty-hour week for all now. Just watch it at the weekend when I have my two days off. [Doris and Cyril exchange alarmed glances. Then they stare at Mrs Pearson who returns their look calmly.] CYRIL: Must grab something to eat. Looks as if Ill need to keep my strength up. [Cyril exits to the kitchen.] DORIS: [moving to the settee; anxiously] Mummy, you dont mean youre not going to do anything on Saturday and Sunday? MRS PEARSON: [airily] No, I wouldnt go that far. I might make a bed or two and do a bit of cooking as a favour. Which means, of course, Ill have to be asked very nicely and thanked for everything and generally made a fuss of. But any of you forty-hour-a-weekers who expect to be waited on hand and foot on Saturday and Sunday, with no thanks for it, are in for a nasty disappointment. Might go off for the week-end perhaps. MRS PEARSON:

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[aghast] Go off for the week-end? Why not? I could do with a change. Stuck here day after day, week after week. If I dont need a change, who does? But where would you go, who would you go DORIS: with? Thats my business. You dont ask me where MRS PEARSON: you should go and who you should go with, do you? Thats different. DORIS: MRS PEARSON: The only difference is that Im a lot older and better able to look after myself, so its you who should do the asking. Did you fall or hit yourself with something? DORIS: [coldly] No. But Ill hit you with something, MRS PEARSON: girl, if you dont stop asking silly questions. [Doris stares at her open-mouthed, ready to cry.] Oh this is awful... [She begins to cry, not DORIS: passionately.] [coldly] Stop blubbering. Youre not a baby. MRS PEARSON: If youre old enough to go out with Charlie Spence, youre old enough to behave properly. Now stop it. [George Pearson enters left. He is about fifty, fundamentally decent but solemn, self-important, pompous. Preferably he should be a heavy, slow-moving type. He notices Doriss tears.] GEORGE: Hello whats this? Cant be anything to cry about. [through sobs] Youll see. DORIS: [Doris runs out left with a sob or two on the way. George stares after her a moment, then looks at Mrs Pearson.] GEORGE: Did she say Youll see...? Yes. MRS PEARSON: What did she mean? GEORGE: Better ask her. MRS PEARSON: [George looks slowly again at the door then at Mrs Pearson. Then he notices the stout that Mrs Pearson raises for another sip. His eyes almost bulge.] DORIS: MRS PEARSON:

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GEORGE: MRS PEARSON: GEORGE: MRS PEARSON: GEORGE: MRS PEARSON: GEORGE: MRS PEARSON: GEORGE: MRS PEARSON: GEORGE: MRS PEARSON: GEORGE: Stout? Yes. [amazed] What are you drinking stout for? Because I fancied some. At this time of day? Yes whats wrong with it at this time of day? [bewildered] Nothing, I suppose, Annie but Ive never seen you do it before... Well, youre seeing me now. [with heavy distaste] Yes, an I dont like it. It doesnt look right. Im surprised at you. Well, that ought to be a nice change for you. What do you mean? It must be some time since you were surprised at me, George. I dont like surprises Im all for a steady going on you ought to know that by this time. By the way, I forgot to tell you this morning I wouldnt want any tea. Special snooker match night at the club tonight an a bit of supper going. So no tea. Thats all right. There isnt any. [astonished] You mean you didnt get any ready? Yes. And a good thing, too, as its turned out. [aggrieved] Thats all very well, but suppose Id wanted some? My goodness! Listen to the man! Annoyed because I dont get a tea for him that he doesnt even want. Ever tried that at the club? Tried what at the club? Going up to the bar and telling em you dont want a glass of beer but youre annoyed because they havent already poured it out. Try that on them and see what you get. I dont know what youre talking about. Theyd laugh at you even more than they do now.

MRS PEARSON: GEORGE: MRS PEARSON: GEORGE: MRS PEARSON:

GEORGE: MRS PEARSON:

GEORGE: MRS PEARSON:

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[indignantly] Laugh at me? They dont laugh at me. MRS PEARSON: Of course they do. You ought to have found that out by this time. Anybody else would have done. Youre one of their standing jokes. Famous. They call you Pompy-ompy Pearson because they think youre so slow and pompous. [horrified] Never! GEORGE: MRS PEARSON: Its always beaten me why you should want to spend so much time at a place where theyre always laughing at you behind your back and calling you names. Leaving your wife at home, night after night. Instead of going out with her, who doesnt make you look a fool... [Cyril enters right, with a glass of milk in one hand and a thick slice of cake in the other. George, almost dazed, turns to him appealingly.] GEORGE: Here, Cyril, youve been with me to the club once or twice. They dont laugh at me and call me Pompy-ompy Pearson, do they? [Cyril, embarrassed, hesitates.] [Angrily] Go on tell me. Do they? CYRIL: [embarrassed] Well yes, Dad, Im afraid they do. [George slowly looks from one to the other, staggered.] GEORGE: [slowly] Well Ill be damned! [George exits left, slowly, almost as if somebody had hit him over the head. Cyril, after watching him go, turns indignantly to Mrs Pearson.] CYRIL: Now you shouldnt have told him that, Mum. Thats not fair. Youve hurt his feelings. Mine, too. MRS PEARSON: Sometimes it does people good to have their feelings hurt. The truth oughtnt to hurt anybody for long. If your father didnt go to the club so often, perhaps theyd stop laughing at him. CYRIL: [gloomily] I doubt it. GEORGE:

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[severely] Possibly you do, but what I doubt is whether your opinions worth having. What do you know? Nothing. You spend too much time and good money at greyhound races and dirt tracks and ice shows... CYRIL: [sulkily] Well, what if I do? Ive got to enjoy myself somehow, havent I? MRS PEARSON: I wouldnt mind so much if you were really enjoying yourself. But are you? And wheres it getting you? [There is a sharp hurried knocking heard off left.] CYRIL: Might be for me. Ill see. [Cyril hurries out left. In a moment he re-enters, closing the door behind him.] Its that silly old bag from next door Mrs Fitzgerald. You dont want her here, do you? MRS PEARSON: [sharply] Certainly I do. Ask her in. And dont call her a silly old bag either. Shes a very nice woman, with a lot more sense than youll ever have. [Cyril exits left. Mrs Pearson finishes her stout, smacking her lips. Cyril re-enters left, ushering in Mrs Fitzgerald, who hesitates in the doorway.] Come in, come in, Mrs Fitzgerald. MRS FITZGERALD: [moving to left centre; anxiously] I just wondered if everythings all right... CYRIL: [sulkily] No, it isnt. [sharply] Of course it is. You be quiet. MRS PEARSON: CYRIL: [indignantly and loudly] Why should I be quiet? MRS PEARSON: [shouting] Because I tell you to you silly, spoilt, young piecan. MRS FITZGERALD: [protesting nervously] Oh no surely... MRS PEARSON: [severely] Now, Mrs Fitzgerald, just let me manage my family in my own way please! MRS FITZGERALD: Yes but Cyril... CYRIL: [sulky and glowering] Mr Cyril Pearson to you, please, Mrs Fitzgerald. [Cyril stalks off into the kitchen.] MRS PEARSON:

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MRS FITZGERALD: [moving to the settee; whispering] Oh dear whats happening? MRS PEARSON: [calmly] Nothing much. Just putting em in their places, thats all. Doing what you ought to have done long since. MRS FITZGERALD: Is George home? [She sits beside Mrs Pearson on the settee.] MRS PEARSON: Yes. Ive been telling him what they think of him at the club. MRS FITZGERALD: Well, they think a lot of him, dont they? MRS PEARSON: No, they dont. And now he knows it. MRS FITZGERALD: [nervously] Oh dear I wish you hadnt, Mrs Fitzgerald... Nonsense! Doing em all a world of good. And MRS PEARSON: theyll be eating out of your hand soon youll see... MRS FITZGERALD: I dont think I want them eating out of my hand... MRS PEARSON: [impatiently] Well, whatever you want, theyll be doing it all three of em. Mark my words, Mrs Pearson. [George enters left glumly. He is unpleasantly surprised when he sees the visitor. He moves to the armchair left, sits down heavily and glumly lights his pipe. Then he looks from Mrs Pearson to Mrs Fitzgerald, who is regarding him anxiously.] GEORGE: Just looked in for a minute, I suppose, Mrs Fitzgerald? MRS FITZGERALD: [who doesnt know what she is saying] Well yes I suppose so, George. GEORGE: [aghast] George! MRS FITZGERALD: [nervously] Oh Im sorry... MRS PEARSON: [impatiently] What does it matter? Your names George, isnt it? Who dyou think you are Duke of Edinburgh? GEORGE: [angrily] Whats he got to do with it? Just tell me that. And isnt it bad enough without her calling me George? No tea. Pompy-ompy Pearson. And poor Doris has been crying her eyes out upstairs yes, crying her eyes out.

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MRS FITZGERALD: [wailing] Oh dear I ought to have known... GEORGE: [staring at her, annoyed] You ought to have known! Why ought you to have known? Nothing to do with you, Mrs Fitzgerald. Look were at sixes and sevens here just now so perhaps youll excuse us... MRS PEARSON: [before Mrs Fitzgerald can reply] I wont excuse you, George Pearson. Next time a friend and neighbour comes to see me, just say something when you see herGood evening or How dyou do? or something an dont just march in an sit down without a word. Its bad manners... MRS FITZGERALD: [nervously] No its all right... MRS PEARSON: No, it isnt all right. Well have some decent manners in this house or Ill know the reason why. [glaring at George] Well? GEORGE: [intimidated] Well, what! [taunting him] Why dont you get off to your MRS PEARSON: club? Special night tonight, isnt it? Theyll be waiting for you wanting to have a good laugh. Go on then. Dont disappoint em. GEORGE: [bitterly] Thats right. Make me look silly in front of her now! Go on dont mind me. Sixes and sevens! Poor Doris been crying her eyes out! Getting the neighbours in to see the fun! [suddenly losing his temper, glaring at Mrs Pearson, and shouting] All right let her hear it. Whats the matter with you? Have you gone barmy or what? MRS PEARSON: [jumping up; savagely] If you shout at me again like that, George Pearson, Ill slap your big, fat, silly face... MRS FITZGERALD: [moaning] Oh no no no please, Mrs Fitzgerald... [Mrs Pearson sits.] GEORGE: [staring at her, bewildered] Either Im off my chump or you two are. How dyou mean No, no please, Mrs Fitzgerald? Look youre Mrs Fitzgerald. So why are you telling yourself to stop when youre not doing

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anything? Tell her to stop then thered be some sense in it. [Staring at Mrs Pearson] I think you must be tiddly. MRS PEARSON: [starting up; savagely] Say that again, George Pearson. GEORGE: [intimidated] All right all right all right ... [Doris enters left slowly, looking miserable. She is still wearing the wrap. Mrs Pearson sits on the settee.] MRS FITZGERALD: Hello Doris dear! DORIS: [miserably] Hello Mrs Fitzgerald! MRS FITZGERALD: I thought you were going out with Charlie Spence tonight. DORIS: [annoyed] Whats that to do with you? MRS PEARSON: [sharply] Stop that! MRS FITZGERALD: [nervously] No its all right... MRS PEARSON: [severely] It isnt all right. I wont have a daughter of mine talking to anybody like that. Now answer Mrs Fitzgerald properly, Doris or go upstairs again... [Doris looks wonderingly at her father.] GEORGE: [in despair] Dont look at me. I give it up. I just give it up. MRS PEARSON: [fiercely] Well? Answer her. DORIS: [sulkily] I was going out with Charlie Spence tonight but now Ive called it off... MRS FITZGERALD: Oh what a pity, dear! Why have you? DORIS: [with a flash of temper] Because if you must know my mothers been going on at memaking me feel miserable an saying hes got buck-teeth and is half-witted... MRS FITZGERALD: [rather bolder; to Mrs Pearson] Oh you shouldnt have said that... MRS PEARSON: [sharply] Mrs Fitzgerald, Ill manage my family you manage yours. GEORGE: [grimly] Ticking her off now, are you, Annie? MRS PEARSON: [even more grimly] Theyre waiting for you at the club, George, dont forget. And dont you start crying again, Doris... MRS FITZGERALD: [getting up; with sudden decision] Thats enough quite enough. [George and Doris stare at her bewildered.]

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[to George and Doris] Now listen, you two. I want to have a private little talk with Mrs Fitz [she corrects herself hastily] with Mrs Pearson, so Ill be obliged if youll leave us alone for a few minutes. Ill let you know when weve finished. Go on, please. I promise you that you wont regret it. Theres something here that only I can deal with. GEORGE: [rising] Im glad somebody can cos I cant. Come on, Doris. [George and Doris exit left. As they go Mrs Fitzgerald moves to left of the small table and sits. She eagerly beckons Mrs Pearson to do the same thing.] MRS FITZGERALD: Mrs Fitzgerald, we must change back now we really must... MRS PEARSON: [rising] Why? MRS FITZGERALD: Because this has gone far enough. I can see theyre all miserable and I cant bear it... MRS PEARSON: A bit more of the same would do em good. Making a great difference already... [She moves to right of the table and sits.] MRS FITZGERALD: No, I cant stand any more of it I really cant. We must change back. Hurry up, please, Mrs Fitzgerald. Well if you insist... MRS PEARSON: MRS FITZGERALD: Yes I do please please. [She stretches her hands across the table eagerly. Mrs Pearson takes them.] MRS PEARSON: Quiet now. Relax. [Mrs Pearson and Mrs Fitzgerald stare at each other. Muttering; exactly as before. Arshtatta dum arshtatta lam arshtatta lamdumbona... They carry out the same action as before, going lax and then coming to life. But this time, of course, they become their proper personalities.] MRS FITZGERALD: Ah well I enjoyed that. MRS PEARSON: I didnt. MRS FITZGERALD: Well, you ought to have done. Now listen,

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Mrs Pearson. Dont go soft on em again, else itll all have been wasted... MRS PEARSON: Ill try not to, Mrs Fitzgerald. MRS FITZGERALD: Theyve not had as long as Id like to have given em another hour or twos rough treatment might have made it certain... MRS PEARSON: Im sure theyll do better now though I dont know how Im going to explain... MRS FITZGERALD: [severely] Dont you start any explaining or apologising or youre done for. MRS PEARSON: [with spirit] Its all right for you, Mrs Fitzgerald. After all, they arent your husband and children... MRS FITZGERALD: [impressively] Now you listen to me. You admitted yourself you were spoiling em and they didnt appreciate you. Any apologies any explanations an youll be straight back where you were. Im warning you, dear. Just give em a look a tone of voice now an again, to suggest you might be tough with em if you wanted to be an it ought to work. Anyhow, we can test it. MRS PEARSON: How? MRS FITZGERALD: Well, what is it youd like em to do that they dont do? Stop at home for once? MRS PEARSON: Yes and give me a hand with supper... MRS FITZGERALD: Anything youd like em to do that you enjoy whether they do or not? MRS PEARSON: [hesitating] Wellyes. I like a nice game of rummy but, of course, I hardly ever have one except at Christmas... MRS FITZGERALD: [getting up] Thatll do then. [She moves towards the door left then tur ns] But remember keep firm or youve had it. [She opens the door. Calling] Hoy! You can come in now. [Coming away from the door, and moving right slightly. Quietly] But remember remember a firm hand. [George, Doris and Cyril file in through the doorway, looking apprehensively at Mrs Pearson.] Im just off. To let you enjoy yourself.

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[The family looks anxiously at Mrs Pearson, who smiles. Much relieved, they smile back at her.] DORIS: [anxiously] Yes, Mother? [smiling] Seeing that you dont want to go MRS PEARSON: out, I tell you what I thought wed do. MRS FITZGERALD: [giving a final warning] Remember! MRS PEARSON: [nodding, then looking sharply at the family] No objections, I hope? [humbly] No, Mother whatever you say... GEORGE: MRS PEARSON: [smiling] I thought wed have a nice family game of rummy and then you children could get the supper ready while I have a talk with your father... GEORGE: [firmly] Suits me. [He looks challengingly at the children.] What about you two? CYRIL: [hastily] Yes thats all right. DORIS: [hesitating] Well I... [sharply] What? Speak up! MRS PEARSON: DORIS: [hastily] Oh I think it would be lovely... [smiling] Good-bye, Mrs Fitzgerald. Come MRS PEARSON: again soon. MRS FITZGERALD: Yes, dear. Night all have a nice time. [Mrs Fitzgerald exits left and the family cluster round Mother as the curtain falls.

1. This play, written in the 1950s, is a humorous and satirical depiction of the status of the mother in the family. (i) What are the issues it raises? (ii) Do you think it caricatures these issues or do you think that the problems it raises are genuine? How does the play resolve the issues? Do you agree with the resolution? 2. If you were to write about these issues today what are some of the incidents, examples and problems that you would think of as relevant?

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3. Is drama a good medium for conveying a social message? Discuss. 4. Read the play out in parts. Enact the play on a suitable occasion. 5. Discuss in groups plays or films with a strong message of social reform that you have watched.

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